Labour Party
LeaderJonas Gahr Støre
Parliamentary leaderRigmor Aasrud
Founded22 August 1887; 136 years ago (1887-08-22)
HeadquartersYoungstorget 2 A, 5th floor, Oslo
Youth wingWorkers' Youth League
Membership (2019)Decrease 50,067[1]
IdeologySocial democracy
Political positionCentre-left
European affiliationParty of European Socialists
International affiliationProgressive Alliance
Nordic affiliationSAMAK
The Social Democratic Group
Colours  Red
Slogan"Trygghet, muligheter, fellesskap"
("Safety, opportunity and community")
48 / 169
County councils[2]
277 / 777
Municipal councils[3]
2,023 / 10,620
Sámi Parliament
7 / 39

The Labour Party (Bokmål: Arbeiderpartiet; Nynorsk: Arbeidarpartiet; A/Ap; Northern Sami: Bargiidbellodat), formerly The Norwegian Labour Party (Norwegian: Det norske Arbeiderparti, DNA), is a social-democratic political party in Norway.[4] It is positioned on the centre-left of the political spectrum,[5] and is led by Jonas Gahr Støre. It was the senior partner of the governing red–green coalition from 2005 to 2013, and its former leader Jens Stoltenberg served as the prime minister of Norway.

The Labour Party is officially committed to social-democratic ideals. Its slogan since the 1930s has been "everyone shall take part" and the party traditionally seeks a strong welfare state, funded through taxes and duties.[6] Since the 1980s, the party has included more of the principles of a social market economy in its policy, allowing for privatisation of state-owned assets and services and reducing income tax progressivity, following the wave of economic liberalisation during the 1980s. During the first Stoltenberg government, the party's policies were inspired by Tony Blair's New Labour agenda in the United Kingdom and saw the most widespread privatisation by any government in Norway to that date.[7] The party has frequently been described as increasingly neoliberal since the 1980s, both by political scientists and opponents on the political left.[8] The Labour Party profiles itself as a progressive party that subscribes to co-operation on a national as well as international level.

Its youth wing is the Workers' Youth League. The party is a member of the Party of European Socialists and the Progressive Alliance. It was formerly member of the Comintern (1919–1923), the International Revolutionary Marxist Centre (1932–1935), the Labour and Socialist International (1938–1940), and the Socialist International (1951–2016). The Labour Party has always been a strong supporter of Norwegian NATO membership and has supported Norway joining the European Union during two referendums.[9] During the Cold War, when the party was in government most of the time, the party closely aligned Norway with the United States at the international level and followed an anti-communist policy at the domestic level in the aftermath of the 1948 Kråkerøy speech and culminating in Norway becoming a founding member of NATO in 1949.[10]

Founded in 1887, the party steadily increased in support until it became the largest party in Norway at the 1927 parliamentary election, a position it has held ever since. That year also saw the consolidation of conflicts surrounding the party during the 1920s following its membership in the Comintern. It first formed a government in 1928 and has led the government for all but sixteen years since 1935. From 1945 to 1961, the party had an absolute majority in the Norwegian Parliament, to date the last time this has happened in the history of Norway. The electoral domination by the Labour Party during the 1960s and early 1970s was initially broken by competition from smaller left-wing parties, primarily from the Socialist People's Party. From the late 1970s, the party started to lose voters due to a rise in right-wing parties, leading to a swing to the right for the Labour Party under Gro Harlem Brundtland during the 1980s. In 2001, the party achieved its worst result since 1924. Between 2005 and 2013, Labour returned to power after committing to a coalition agreement with other parties in order to form a majority government.[6] Labour entered opposition again after losing nine seats in 2013. The party lost a further six seats in 2017, yielding the second-lowest number of seats since 1924. At the 2021 election, the party lost one seat but left-wing opposition gained a majority over the political right, with Støre becoming the prime minister and heading a minority government along with the Centre Party.


Founding and early years

The party headquarters in Oslo

The party was founded in 1887[11][12] in Arendal and first ran in elections to the Storting in 1894. It entered the parliament in 1903 and steadily increased its vote until 1927, when it became the largest party in Norway. The party were members of Communist International (Comintern), a communist organisation, between 1918 and 1923.[13]

From the establishment of Vort Arbeide in 1884, the party had a growing and notable organisation of newspapers and other press outlets. The party press system eventually resulted in Norsk Arbeiderpresse (Norwegian Labour Press, now A-pressen). In January 1913, the party had 24 newspapers and six more newspapers were founded in 1913. The party also had the periodical Det 20de Aarhundre.[14] In 1920, the party had 33 newspapers and 6 semi-affiliated newspapers.[15] The party had its own publishing house, Det norske Arbeiderpartis forlag, succeeded by Tiden Norsk Forlag. In addition to books and pamphlets, Det norske Arbeiderpartis forlag published Maidagen (annual May Day publication), Arbeidets Jul (annual Christmas publication) and Arbeiderkalenderen (calendar).[16] The party also published a monthly political magazine, Kontakt, between 1947 and 1954 which was edited by Torolf Elster.[17]

From its roots as a radical alternative to the political establishment, the party grew to its current dominance through several eras. The party experienced a split in 1921 caused by a decision made two years earlier to join the Comintern and the Social Democratic Labour Party of Norway was formed. In 1923, the party left the Comintern while a significant minority of its members left the party to form the Communist Party of Norway. In 1927, the Social Democrats were reunited with Labour. Some Communists also joined Labour whereas other Communists tried a failed merger endeavor which culminated in the formation of the Arbeiderklassens Samlingsparti. The same year, Helga Karlsen became the party's first Member of Parliament.[18]

In 1928, Christopher Hornsrud formed Labour's first government, but it lasted only two weeks. During the early 1930s, Labour abandoned its revolutionary profile and set a reformist course. Labour then returned to government in 1935 and remained in power throughout the Second World War. The party was a member of the Labour and Socialist International between 1938 and 1940.[19] When Norway was invaded by Nazi Germany in 1940, the Labour-led government and the Norwegian royal family fled to London, whence it led a government-in-exile for the duration of the war.

Post-war period

Immediately following the end of the Second World War, the Labour Party emerged victorious from the 1945 Norwegian parliamentary election. For the first time, the party secured an absolute majority in the Storting, taking 76 of 150 seats. Einar Gerhardsen of the Labour Party subsequently formed his first government, and he went on to dominate the post-war political scene over the following years. Gerhardsen is commonly referred to as Landsfaderen (Father of the Nation) and is generally considered one of the principal architects behind the reconstruction of Norway after the Second World War. The period from 1945 has been described as the golden age of the Norwegian Labour Party, and the party retained its parliamentary majority until the 1961 election. In 1963, the Kings Bay Affair drove the opposition to table a motion of no-confidence against the Gerhardsen's cabinet; the motion was ultimately successful, and Labour was forced to step down from government for the first time in 28 years. However, the incoming centre-right coalition proved short-lived, and Labour returned to government less than one month later, and remained in office until 1965.

The Labour Party later formed government in the periods of 1971–1972, 1973–1981, 1986–1989, and 1990–1997. Labour prime ministers in this period included party veterans Oscar Torp, Trygve Bratteli, and Gro Harlem Brundtland, and the party remained the largest in Norway throughout the remainder of the 20th century.

21st century

Campaign booth at Karl Johans gate ahead of the 2007 Norwegian local elections

In the year 2000, the centre-right coalition led by Kjell Magne Bondevik of the Christian Democrats was toppled in a confidence vote, and the Labour Party returned to power under Jens Stoltenberg, who became prime minister. However, after a period of intense infighting between Stoltenberg and former prime minister Thorbjørn Jagland, and a turbulent spell in government, the party collapsed to only 24.3% of the vote in the 2001 Norwegian parliamentary election, marking its worst result since 1924. The party returned to the opposition under Stoltenberg's leadership, before later recovering to 32.7% in the 2005 Norwegian parliamentary election. The Labour Party subsequently formed its first ever peace-time coalition government along with the Socialist Left and Centre parties. Their cooperation was dubbed the Red-green coalition, in emulation of similar constellations in Germany.

In 2011, the party changed its official name from the Norwegian Labour Party (Det norske arbeiderparti) to the Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet). The party claimed there had been confusion among voters at polling stations because of the difference between the official name and the common use name of Labour Party. The name change caused Arbeiderpartiet to appear on the ballot, eliminating any potential confusion.[20][21] On 22 July 2011, a terrorist opened fire at the Labour Party's youth camp (ages 13–25), killing 69 people and killing eight more in Oslo with a bomb towards a government building (which was led by the Labour Party). Stoltenberg's initial response to the 22 July attack was well received by the Norwegian public. As he reaffirmed his government's commitment to the values of openness and tolerance in the face of adversity or intolerance his approval rating soared as high as 94%, only to decrease sharply after the 22 July Commission report highlighted the laggard response time of police cost dozens of lives.[22][23]

In the 2013 Norwegian parliamentary election, the Red-green coalition lost its majority in the Storting, but the Labour Party remained the largest party in the Storting. Jens Stoltenberg, who had served as prime minister for 10 of the past 13 years, remained party leader until he stepped down in 2014 after being appointed Secretary General of NATO. Later, Jonas Gahr Støre, a prominent profile in the Stoltenberg government, was chosen as new party leader on 14 June 2014.[24] In the 2017 Norwegian parliamentary election, he led the party to a surprise defeat, as Labour fell 3.4 perentage points to 27.4%, and from 55 to 49 seats in the Storting, while the Conservative Party managed to retain a majority along with its smaller centre-right partners. Erna Solberg, Conservative prime minister since 2013, remained in office throughout the 2017—2021 term. In the same year, the Labour Party was targeted by hackers suspected to be from Russia.[25]

In 2021, the Labour Party returned to government after eight years in opposition, following the 2021 Norwegian parliamentary election. The party dropped to 48 seats from the 49 it had secured in 2017, but its centre-left coalition secured a landslide victory overall, taking 100 of the 169 seats in the Storting. The energy crisis was the most important issue for voters.[26] Party leader Jonas Gahr Støre assumed the Norwegian premiership on 14 October 2021, at the helm of a minority coalition with the Centre Party. Soon after assuming power, the new coalition was faced with a series of crises, including the Russian invasion of Ukraine and subsequent energy price hikes. The government was criticized for its handling of these crises, and by August 2022, Støre had dropped to 31% in preferred prime minister polling, against 49% for Erna Solberg, the Conservative prime minister in the 2013—2021 period.[27] Meanwhile, the Labour Party hit record-low ratings in voting intention polls in late 2022, with a number of polls placing it below the 20%-mark in September 2022.[28]


The Labour Party organisation is divided into county- and municipality-level chapters, numbering approximately 2,500 associations in total.[29] Historically, the party has maintained a close association with the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO), and until the mid-1990s, a dual-membership agreement existed between the two organizations, with LO members automatically holding (indirect) membership in the Labour Party as well. The party had about 200,500 members at its peak in 1950.[30] No records were kept about direct membership or indirect membership figures.[31] The dual-membership clause was scrapped in 1995, and that year its membership level fell to just over 72,500 from 128,000 in 1990.[32] In 1997, that figure dropped to 64,000 in 1997.[33] In 2021, the party comprised 45,553 members according to its own official website.[34] Since 2005, the party has maintained a policy requiring full gender parity at every level of organisation above ordinary membership.[35]

The supreme body of the party is the Party Congress which is held every two years. The most senior body between these congresses is the National Delegate's Meeting which is made up of the party's Executive Board and two delegates from each of the 19 counties.[29] The Executive Board itself consists of 16 elected members as well as the leadership of the party.[29] The party is headed by a single leader, while the number of deputy leaders has fluctuated between one and two in different periods. As of 2022, the party leadership is made up of leader Jonas Gahr Støre, who has held the position since 2014, and deputy leader Bjørnar Selnes Skjæran, who was first elected to the position in 2021.

The party's youth organisation is the Workers' Youth League, and it maintains a women's wing known as the Labour Party Women's Network.[35] The party participates in elections to the Sami Parliament of Norway, and work related to this has its own organisational structure with seven local groups, a bi-yearly congress, a national council and the Labour group in the Sami parliament.[36]

Prominent party members

Party leaders

Jonas Gahr Støre, party leader since 2014 and prime minister since 2021.
  1. Anders Andersen (1887–1888)
  2. Hans G. Jensen (1888–1889)
  3. Christian Holtermann Knudsen (1889–1890)
  4. Carl Jeppesen (1890–1892)
  5. Ole Georg Gjøsteen (1892–1893)
  6. Gustav A. Olsen-Berg (1893–1894)
  7. Carl Jeppesen (1894–1897)
  8. Ludvig Meyer (1897–1900)
  9. Christian Holtermann Knudsen (1900–1903)
  10. Christopher Hornsrud (1903–1906)
  11. Oscar Nissen (1906–1911)
  12. Christian Holtermann Knudsen (1911–1918)
  13. Kyrre Grepp (1918–1922)
  14. Emil Stang jr. (1922–1923)
  15. Oscar Torp (1923–1945)
  16. Einar Gerhardsen (1945–1965)
  17. Trygve Bratteli (1965–1975)
  18. Reiulf Steen (1975–1981)
  19. Gro Harlem Brundtland (1981–1992)
  20. Thorbjørn Jagland (1992–2002)
  21. Jens Stoltenberg (2002–2014)
  22. Jonas Gahr Støre (2014–present)

Labour Party prime ministers

  1. Christopher Hornsrud (January–February 1928)
  2. Johan Nygaardsvold (1935–1945)[a]
  3. Einar Gerhardsen (1945–1951)
  4. Oscar Torp (1951–1955)
  5. Einar Gerhardsen (1955–1963), (1963–1965)
  6. Trygve Bratteli (1971–1972, 1973–1976)
  7. Odvar Nordli (1976–1981)
  8. Gro Harlem Brundtland (February–October 1981, 1986–1989, 1990–1996)
  9. Thorbjørn Jagland (1996–1997)
  10. Jens Stoltenberg (2000–2001, 2005–2013)
  11. Jonas Gahr Støre (2021–present)

Electoral results

Graphical summary

Parliamentary elections

Date Votes Seats Position Size
# % ± pp # ±
1894 520 0.3 New
0 / 114
New Extra-parliamentary 4th
1897 947 0.6 Increase 0.3
0 / 114
Steady Extra-parliamentary Steady 4th
1900 7,013 3.0 Increase 2.4
0 / 114
Steady Extra-parliamentary Steady 4th
1903 22,948 9.7 Increase 6.7
5 / 117
Increase 5 Opposition Decrease 5th
1906 43,134 15.9 Increase 6.2
10 / 123
Increase 5 Opposition Increase 3rd
1909 91,268 21.5 Increase 5.6
11 / 123
Increase 1 Opposition Decrease 4th
1912 128,455 26.2 Increase 4.7
23 / 123
Increase 12 Opposition Increase 2nd
1915 198,111 32.0 Increase 5.8
19 / 123
Decrease 4 Opposition Decrease 3rd
1918 209,560 31.6 Decrease 0.4
18 / 123
Decrease 1 Opposition Steady 3rd
1921 192,616 21.3 Decrease 10.3
29 / 150
Increase 11 Opposition Steady 3rd
1924 179,567 18.4 Decrease 2.9
24 / 150
Decrease 5 Opposition Steady 3rd
1927 368,106 36.8 Increase 18.4
59 / 150
Increase 35 Opposition[b] Increase 1st
1930 374,854 31.4 Decrease 5.4
47 / 150
Decrease 12 Opposition Steady 1st
1933 500,526 40.1 Increase 8.7
69 / 150
Increase 22 Opposition (1933–1935) Steady 1st
Minority (from 1935)
1936 618,616 42.5 Increase 2.4
70 / 150
Increase 1 Majority Steady 1st
1945 609,348 41.0 Decrease 1.5
76 / 150
Increase 6 Coalition (1945, Ap–HVSpNKP) Steady 1st
1949 803,471 45.7 Increase 4.7
85 / 150
Increase 9 Majority Steady 1st
1953 830,448 46.7 Increase 1.0
77 / 150
Decrease 8 Majority Steady 1st
1957 865,675 48.3 Increase 1.6
78 / 150
Increase 1 Majority Steady 1st
1961 860,526 46.8 Decrease 1.5
74 / 150
Decrease 4 Minority (1961–1963) Steady 1st
Opposition (1963)
Minority (from 1963)
1965 883,320 43.1 Decrease 3.7
68 / 150
Decrease 6 Opposition Steady 1st
1969 1,004,348 46.5 Increase 3.4
74 / 150
Increase 6 Opposition (1969–1971) Steady 1st
Minority (1971–1972)
Opposition (from 1972)
1973 759,499 35.3 Decrease 11.2
62 / 155
Decrease 12 Minority Steady 1st
1977 972,434 42.3 Increase 7.0
76 / 155
Increase 14 Minority Steady 1st
1981 914,749 37.1 Decrease 5.2
65 / 155
Decrease 11 Opposition Steady 1st
1985 1,061,712 40.8 Increase 3.7
71 / 157
Increase 6 Opposition (1985–1986) Steady 1st
Minority (from 1986)
1989 907,393 34.3 Decrease 6.5
63 / 165
Decrease 8 Opposition (1989–1990) Steady 1st
1993 908,724 36.9 Increase 2.6
67 / 165
Increase 4 Minority Steady 1st
1997 904,362 35.0 Decrease 1.9
65 / 165
Decrease 2 Opposition (1997–2000) Steady 1st
Minority (2000–2001)
2001 612,632 24.3 Decrease 10.7
43 / 165
Decrease 22 Opposition Steady 1st
2005 862,456 32.7 Increase 8.4
61 / 169
Increase 18 Coalition (Ap–Sp–SV) Steady 1st
2009 949,060 35.4 Increase 2.7
64 / 169
Increase 3 Coalition (Ap–Sp–SV) Steady 1st
2013 874,769 30.8 Decrease 4.6
55 / 169
Decrease 9 Opposition Steady 1st
2017 801,073 27.4 Decrease 3.4
49 / 169
Decrease 6 Opposition Steady 1st
2021 783,394 26.3 Decrease 1.1
48 / 169
Decrease 1 Coalition minority (Ap–Sp) Steady 1st


  1. ^ During the German occupation of Norway from 1940 to 1945, Johan Nygaardsvold was in exile in London.
  2. ^ Briefly in government from 28 January 1928 to 15 February 1928 until the cabinet was defeated on a vote of no confidence. See Hornsrud's Cabinet.


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  2. ^ "Valg 2011: Landsoversikt per parti" [Election 2011: Country overview per party] (in Norwegian). Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development. Archived from the original on 24 September 2011. Retrieved 18 September 2011.
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  4. ^
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  14. ^ Bjørnson, Øyvind (1990). På klassekampens grunn 1900-1920. Volume two of Arbeiderbevegelsens historie i Norge (in Norwegian). Oslo: Tiden. p. 276. ISBN 82-10-02752-2.
  15. ^ Maurseth, Per (1987). Gjennom kriser til makt 1920-1935. Volume three of Arbeiderbevegelsens historie i Norge (in Norwegian). Oslo: Tiden. p. 65. ISBN 82-10-02753-0.
  16. ^ Maurseth, 1987: p. 66
  17. ^ "Fra Håndslag til Kontakt". Morgenbladet (in Norwegian). 10 July 2009. Retrieved 23 June 2022.
  18. ^ "Helga Aleksandra Karlsen", Store norske leksikon (in Norwegian Bokmål), 19 November 2020, retrieved 23 September 2021
  19. ^ Kowalski, Werner. Geschichte der sozialistischen arbeiter-internationale: 1923 - 19. Berlin: Dt. Verl. d. Wissenschaften, 1985. p. 310.
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  21. ^ Arbeiderpartiet skifter navn Dagbladet. 9 April 2011.
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  24. ^ Westerveld, June; Salvesen, Geir (14 June 2014). "- Jeg har følt et intenst vemod". Aftenposten (in Norwegian). Retrieved 14 June 2014.
  25. ^ Standish, Reid (3 October 2018). "The New Cold Front in Russia's Information War". Foreign Policy. Archived from the original on 4 October 2018. Last year, hackers targeted the country's Labour Party—currently in opposition but a staunch supporter of Norway's NATO membership—in an attack believed to have been orchestrated from Russia.
  26. ^ "Norway's left-wing opposition wins election in a landslide". Al Jazeera. 14 September 2021. Retrieved 11 September 2022.
  27. ^ "Tilliten stuper for Støre: Én av to vil ha Solberg". NRK. 18 August 2022. Retrieved 22 September 2022.
  28. ^ "Sjokkmåling: Fremskrittspartiet tre ganger så store som Senterpartiet". Nettavisen. 20 September 2022. Retrieved 22 September 2022.
  29. ^ a b c Information in English Archived 18 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 18 April 2015. Archive.
  30. ^ Røed, Lars-Ludvig (7 January 2009). "Lengre mellom partimedlemmene i dag". Aftenposten. Archived from the original on 30 December 2010.
  31. ^ Scarrow, Susan (27 November 2014). Beyond Party Members: Changing Approaches to Partisan Mobilization (1 ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 59. ISBN 9780191748332. Retrieved 15 June 2023.
  32. ^ "Medlemstall: Oversikt over Arbeiderpartiets medlemstall nå og historisk". Arbeiderpartiet. Retrieved 22 September 2022.
  33. ^ Scarrow, Susan (27 November 2014). Beyond Party Members: Changing Approaches to Partisan Mobilization (1 ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 82. ISBN 9780191748332. Retrieved 15 June 2023.
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  35. ^ a b Arbeiderpartiet. "Kvinnebevegelsen / Aps historie / Historien / Om AP - Arbeiderpartiet". Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  36. ^ Samepolitisk arbeid (in Norwegian) Retrieved 18 April 2015